CAPON: THE ULTIMATE THANKSGIVING FEAST
The one holiday other than Christmas when the typical American family “gathers together to ask the Lord’s Blessings” to consume more calories at one meal than a total of three days is called Thanksgiving.
The essential quality of every holiday is tradition. Each family has its own, inherited through the generations, and the menu and flavors are both regional and familial. The common denominator of a successful holiday meal is that it tastes “like Grandma or Mama made it”. The truth is that Grandma and Mama may not have been such terrific cooks, but the remembrance is better than the reality, and nostalgia is always delicious. Turkey, however, has become available year-round and is no longer symbolic as once a year Thanksgiving fare. So, if you would like a change and feel gastronomically adventurous, you might want to treat your family to capon. The gourmet experience of capon is like no other poultry. The delicacy is due to the accumulation of fat, which is stored in successive layers in the muscles of these castrated and fattened young roosters. Although capon is more expensive than turkey, it offers considerable more white meat from a larger breast. Capon is roasted in the same manner as a large hen or roasting chicken or young turkey, but should have some form of citrus added during the cooking to cut the fat. Capon requires approximately 30 minutes per pound cooking time. Allow 30-45 minutes longer total cooking time if the capon is stuffed. And, remember to remove any left-over stuffing from the capon to a dish for safety.THANKSGIVING CAPON
6-8 pound Capon
1 orange, sliced with rind
½ lemon, sliced with rind
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
Optional: 1 whole clove garlic, peeled
Paprika to sprinkle
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup water or to cover bottom of roasting pan
1 tablespoon butter
Optional: Smuckers® Apricot Spreadable Simply Fruit
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
½ cup Madeira wine (or Marsala)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Wash, dry and cut away excess fat from the capon. Sprinkle the cavity with salt. Pour some poultry seasoning into your hand and rub well into the cavity. Slice the orange and lemon and insert the slices into the cavity with the onion and celery (and garlic).
3. Sprinkle the outside with salt and paprika. (If you like a “zing”, use hot Hungarian paprika sparingly) Brush the skin with melted butter.
4. Set into a shallow roaster breast down. Add water to cover the bottom of the pan. Roast, uncovered, 20 minutes. Remove capon from the oven and turn breast side up. Sprinkle with paprika and brush with butter.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 325° and roast 30 minutes per pound, or until temperature reaches 165°F on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
6. Optional: To glaze: The last 15 minutes of roasting, increase oven temperature to 375°F. Brush the skin with apricot jam.
7. Remove Capon to a platter. Cover lightly with foil and allow the capon to rest 15-20 minutes before carving for the juices to settle.
8. Combine the flour with the Madeira (or Marsala) wine. Stir in the gravy from the roasting pan. Bring to a boil, stirring, until thickened. Serve on the side in a gravy boat.
LOUISIANA OYSTER AND PECAN STUFFING
Yield: 4 Servings
2 cups stale French bread cubes
2 minced shallots
2 ribs minced celery
1 minced green pepper
¼ teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ pound melted butter
1 pint large oysters with their liquid
2 extra large eggs
1. Mix all ingredients with the melted butter and enough oyster liquid to bind. Stir in beaten eggs. Spoon into the cavity of a 6-8 pound capon, or spoon into a casserole dish to bake, covered, set into a pan of water, 1 hour.
CAPON SOUTHWESTERN STYLE
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander
3 tablespoons canned chopped green chilies
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
¼ pound butter, melted
½ cup honey
1. Chop the garlic and onion and insert in the cavity of the capon.
2. Sprinkle the cavity with salt. Sprinkle salt over the skin.
3. Combine the cumin, coriander, chilies, cilantro, melted butter and honey in a blender. With your fingers, raise the skin up from the capon and push a thin layer of the mixture between the skin and the meat, reserving 1/3 cup.
4. Slow-roast the capon at 325°F. The last half hour brush the outer skin with the reserved marinade.
Or combine 1 tablespoon Fajita seasoning (McCormick or Williams Sonoma), 1 clove chopped garlic with 1 minced onion and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and insert the mixture into the cavity of the turkey. Combine 3 tablespoons Fajita seasoning with 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon chili powder and ¼ pound melted butter (or ¼ cup olive oil). Brush the skin heavily an hour before roasting.
3 cups chicken broth
Necks and gizzards of capon
1 rib celery, chopped coarse
1 onion, chopped coarse
1 whole clove
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
Liver from capon, if not used in stuffing
Drippings from the pan, after skimming off fat
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Optional: ½ cup chicken broth or white wine to finish
1. Combine the first 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cover the pot and cook 30 minutes. Add liver. Cook another 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Strain.
2. Skim off fat from the gravy in the roasting pan. Stir in flour and broth or wine. Combine with strained stock. Cook, stirring, until thickened.
ELSA’S RAW CRANBERRY MOLD
Yield: 8 Servings
1 ½ pounds fresh cranberries
Grated rind of 2 oranges
2 oranges, peeled, seeded and quartered
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
6 ounces raspberry Jello®
1 envelope (tablespoon) Knox® unflavored gelatin
2 cups chopped walnuts (Optional: Most children do not like nuts)
1. Combine cranberries and oranges in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulverize.
2. Remove to a bowl and stir in sugar. Allow to sit, stirring several times, until sugar dissolves.
3. Combine the water with Jello® and gelatin. Bring to a boil, stirring.
4. Pour boiling mixture over cranberries and stir until blended. Cool 10 minutes. Pour into an oiled* 2 ½ quart mold. Refrigerate overnight.
* Pour a few drops of vegetable oil into the mold and rub around the bottom and sides.
To Serve: Run a knife around the inside surface of the mold and turn upside down on a platter. Allow to stand a few minutes before lifting. The mold should slide out easily.
SWEET POTATO PUDDING
Yield: 4 cups – Recipe may be doubled or tripled
2 pounds sweet potatoes (2 large)
¼ pound butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Optional: ? cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup tangerine juice
1 cup crushed pineapple
Optional, Chopped pecans
10 ounce package miniature marshmallows
1. Bake or microwave the whole potatoes until very soft. Cool and remove the skin.
2. Mash the potatoes with the melted butter, cinnamon, (brown sugar), salt, and tangerine juice. Beat with a wire whisk or hand-held electric beater until very smooth. Stir in pineapple.
3. Spoon into a baking dish. Sprinkle, if desired, with chopped pecans. Cover with aluminum foil. These 3 steps may be done several hours in advance.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until very hot. Remove foil. Cover the top of the pudding heavily with the marshmallows. Change the oven setting to broil. Set the pudding under the broiler for the marshmallows to brown. (Watch carefully so they do not burn)
Note: For a nice presentation and individual servings: See photograph: 6 ounce plastic cups were tightly filled with the mashed potatoes. Refrigerate several hours. Run a knife around the edge of the cup and turn upside down onto a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 350°F. Remove and top with mini marshmallows. Set under the broiler to lightly brown.
Yield: 1 loaf
1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored (2 large apples)
¼ cup minced cranberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 full teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cold milk
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mince apples and cranberries in a food processor, or chop fine by hand.
2. Sift together the flour, soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
3. Beat butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Add the egg and apple-cranberry mixture. Add the flour mixture and the milk in thirds.
4. Spoon into a greased and floured or non-stick bread pan. Bake 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out “clean”.
This bread freezes beautifully. Recipe may be doubled- do not double soda.
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